Climate news can be a mix of scary and depressing. The Guardian reported today that the world is on course of 3 degrees of warming if we don’t do more to reduce our carbon emissions, and this will lead to 2-meter sea level rises that will inundate major coastal cities around the world. It’s important that this kind of news galvanises action, rather than leaving us feeling helpless.
The good news is progress is being made, and Britain is actually at the forefront. A new study on carbon intensity by PwC showed that the UK managed to reduce its carbon intensity by 7.7% last year- faster than any other G20 country.
The UK is strongly outperforming other major economies, and managed to decrease its carbon intensity almost three times faster than the global average. This is mostly due to a rapid move away from coal energy, towards renewables. Solar energy generated more electricity than coal energy from April to September 2017- the first time this has ever happened in the UK.
Although this is great news, to continue at this rate big changes will have to be made. The transition away from coal energy is nearly complete, and the rates of reduction in emissions from heating and transport is far lower – behind the global average in fact. So in order to maintain this momentum and stay a world leader in reducing climate change, the UK needs to start moving to zero carbon cities, changing the way we build and the way we live.
The move away from coal energy is important though, and we saw more good news on this front this week. Italy announced recently it will be joining the list of countries who have pledged to phase out coal energy and end its use for electricity generation completely by 2025.
Closer to home we saw a landmark reached this week. Battery storage capacity for the UK grid reached 100MW for the first time ever. Increase battery storage is crucial for balancing supply and demand when renewables are providing a large percentage of the power supply. This prevents the need to have polluting fossil fuel power stations to provide back-up capacity. 100MWs is just a drop in the ocean when it comes to total energy storage requirements, but it is only the start. Battery storage capacity quadrupled in 2017 and saw the beginning of commercial stand-alone battery projects, which have never previously been undertaken in the UK. Already there is plans for an addition 190MWs of battery storage capacity to come online in the first months of 2018, almost tripling UK battery storage capacity within just a few months.
Pictured: A new battery storage facility in Sheffield.